I don't know what it is about the Brass Monkey. Let's face it, it's not a picturesque course. I also find it a tough course with the flat out and back in particularly open countryside leaving you at the peril of any fiendish cross winds. What it is though is an iconic race in the diary, one for the PB seekers. It's a bit like those fidget spinners that all our kids had. You can't quite put your finger on why they sell but they sell. In big numbers. The BM is no different. Log onto Facebook on the day places go on sale and you will be greeted by the whingers of the world grumbling about their missed opportunity. Stay and while and linger my friends, places also pop up post Xmas and Knavesmire Harriers are very generous with their place transfer policy.
Brass Monkey day always feels like a big day in the running calendar for the clubs based in the North East. The coaches descend cascading eager Geordies and Mackems chomping at the bit for their half marathon fare. By comparison, it never feels like there are that many local runners around. Maybe because most of the regulars are volunteering.
BM day also feels like that one day a year when runners get treated like they would always wish to be treated. We are pampered on BM day. Perfect facilities, warm with food and loads of seats and wait for it, plenty of loos! No changing in a gazebo or the back of your car. It's our one day of luxury each year and Knavesmire do a fabulous job in delivering it for our 'enjoyment'.
Sunday dawned and we were lucky. The weather was perfect. Minimal wind with barely a cloud in the sky. It was perfect BM conditions. Compare it to the Hardmoors 30 the week before out on the coast that came with free gales, rain and mud. Chalk and cheese. Extra special kudos to Jackie who has returned fresh from 7 parkruns in the Australian summer to our winter.
It was lovely to see our fellow Postal Harriers and our mates from the other local clubs. If I had a £ for every time I was asked that age old question. What time are you aiming for today? That's the thing with tarmac, it's always about time! As long as my legs are able to, I'll always have a go and my adage of set off like Kipchoge and finish like Middleton was a reasonably accurate prediction.
The 10am start time arrived and we shuffled out onto Bishy Rd with Dom alongside me like a coiled spring ready to unleash his skills on the course. I was definitely in my start like Kipchoge mode, trotting along comfortably but not quite so comfortably as Dom. About 5 miles in my Kipchoge skills started to wane and Dom's ability saw him drift off into the distance, slowly but surely. It felt like I was slowing to stop over the next 8 miles as plenty of runners streamed past but I was still knocking out 4.00 - 4.10 mins per KM.
I hope everyone else felt drained as we made our way back through the 'hills' of Bishopthorpe and up and over the A64. That last drag back to the racecourse feels never ending and you've still got 400m to go once you get into the car park. Time to put those Weds night interval sessions to good use and show your rivals what you've got left in the tank. I'm quite fond of a sprint to make up a few places albeit the outcome is that bent over double posture when the marshals start to wonder if you really are OK.
Well done to all our runners and a big thank you to all our fellow Posties who were out on the course cheering us on. It makes a difference and sorry if I didn't clock you all on the way round.
It's only my view but I think Knavesmire Harriers have got this event pretty much about right. They even fixed the weather although I'm not missing the multiple emails from them this week. The few tweaks I would recommend relate to the environmental aspects of our hobby. As time goes by I'm getting more interested in the work of the likes of The Green Runners, https://thegreenrunners.com/ So here's my thoughts on what makes a great event an even better one:
T shirts & medals - I imagine we all have more of both of these than we know what to do with. You can only wear one t-shirt at once and the majority of my running medals reside in an old shoe box or two. I'd like to see all events giving us the option to not have a t-shirt or even better, use the likes of Trees Not Tees and get something positive done instead. Our resources aren't infinite and I think we all have a responsibility to do our bit.
Plastic cups - there must be money in some entrepreneur designing a runner friendly / environment friendly alternative to the plastic cup. If anyone has mastered the art of getting water into your mouth from a plastic cup without breaking stride then please let me know. Snowdonia Marathon use little capsules that you perforate and don't lose a drop and I know other events have pouches similar to what you put in your washing machine.
Safety pins - another product we all must have an endless supply of so lovely that they accompany the running bib number that comes through the post but we probably don't need them.
Last but not least, chocolate. My eyes lit up when I saw tables full of chocolate bars at the finish. My weakness is chocolate and probably the reason I'm not built like the racing snakes I compete against. I'd happily go without a t-shirt and collect another half dozen chocolate bars. Or more!
Well done to the following:
Dom Carter 197th 1.21.08
Simon Middleton 294th 1.24.09
Alex Ashley-Roberts 345th 1.25.54
Andy Heather 695th 1.36.19
Ben Briffaud 789th 1.38.41
Mark Whitby 926th 1.44.32
Hannah Holmes 942nd 1.45.02
Amy Johnson 1074th 1.49.10
Lou Mamalis 1081st 1.49.25
Donna Gold 1287th 1.57.45
Andy Ellwood 1303rd 1.58.32
Lisa Ellwood 1575th 2.19.45
Jackie Mitchell 1618th 2.48.03
Last but not least, membership. As per the messages from our Treasurer, Carl, it's membership renewal time. If you're a renewing member or joining for the first time then you've got until the end of Feb to do so. Any queries please get in touch or shout up at Club Nights.